Strontium

Also known as: N/A
Chemical reference number (CAS): 7440-24-6

Strontium is a mineral that can occur non-radioactive and radioactive forms. The non-radioactive form of strontium is formed naturally in the environment and is commonly found in soil, bedrock, and groundwater. Non-radioactive strontium is used to make ceramics, glass products, pyrotechnics, paints, fluorescent lights, and some medicines.

Radioactive strontium does not occur in nature. Radioactive strontium is used in limited amounts to treat certain types of cancer. While low levels of radioactive strontium are found around the world from past nuclear reactions, the risk of health impacts from this exposure is minimal.

Exposure Information

People can be exposed to low levels of non-radioactive and radioactive strontium from air, dust, soil, food, and water. Exposure to high levels of radioactive strontium is unlikely in Wisconsin. Food and drinking water are the largest sources of exposure to non-radioactive strontium. Foods like fish, vegetables, and livestock naturally contain low levels of non-radioactive strontium.

Drinking water can contain non-radioactive strontium if it comes from groundwater aquifers with strontium minerals.

People can reduce the amount of strontium that is absorbed in the body by eating a balanced diet with sufficient vitamin D, calcium, and protein.

Standards

Air
There are no standards for the amount of strontium allowed in the air of homes.

Water
There are no federal or state drinking water standards for strontium. In 2019, the Department of Health Services recommended a groundwater enforcement standard, P-02434, of 1,500 micrograms per liter (µg/L) for strontium. This recommendation is based on a health reference level established by the EPA to evaluate strontium levels in public water systems. The Department of Natural Resources is undergoing rule-making to adopt this standard into law.

Health Effects

Everyone's Reaction is Different

A person's reaction to chemicals depends on several things, including individual health, heredity, previous exposure to chemicals, including medicines, and personal habits, such as smoking or drinking. It’s also important to consider the length of exposure to the chemical, the amount of chemical exposure, and whether the chemical was inhaled, touched, or eaten.

Infants and young children who drink too much non-radioactive strontium and have a diet that is low in calcium and protein can develop strontium rickets.

Strontium rickets is a disease in which bones are thicker and shorter than normal and may be deformed. Children who drink adequate amounts of formula or milk are not likely to develop these problems.

The health risk associated with radioactive strontium at the levels typically found in the environment is very low. Higher than normal levels of radioactive strontium can reduce blood cell levels and increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

 

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has more information on exposure routes and health effects of strontium.

Last Revised: April 7, 2021

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